You might already know that Real Madrid have won all seven European finals they have played in during the Champions League era. Include back-to-back UEFA Cup wins in the mid-1980s and that’s nine out of nine.
If those games were draws – and they’ve included games against Juventus, Atletico Madrid and Liverpool – then the odds of winning that straight are over 500 to one. No wonder they say Real Madrid don’t play finals, they win them.
But there is another feature of Madridismo that Liverpool must overcome if they are to lift the trophy in Paris on Saturday night and that is the return – the reassembled. There have been many by Real Madrid en route to this Champions League final.
Two goals behind with half an hour remaining against Paris Saint-Germain in the round of 16, they were also 10 minutes from elimination against Chelsea in the round of 16. Against Manchester City in the semi-finals, they were down two after 89 minutes and won.
Fans call him the spirit of Juanito, the former player around whom Madrid’s comeback mythology was built. It was he, in one of those aforementioned UEFA Cup races, who went down in folklore when talking about his inevitability against Inter.
After being beaten in the first leg of their semi-final, Juanito told any opponent who wanted to hear – in Italian – that 90 minutes is a long time at the Bernabeu. It proved so – and it continues to prove so for many of their opponents in Europe to this day.
Asígana el Madrid. This is how Madrid win, the chant says.
This belief in fate, this winning mentality that convinces players and fans that anything is possible, however unlikely it may seem, is a common thread that runs through the club. Two goals needed against Manchester City with the countdown? Still possible.
Rodrygo, author of the two goals of this extraordinary semi-final, thanked the divine. Thibaut Courtois, the goalkeeper whose save from Jack Grealish moments before facilitated what followed, urged people not to even try to explain it.
But there may be an explanation.
Matt Shaw is a performance psychologist who has worked with many sports personalities in his role at InnerDrive. Visualization is a key part of his work. “On an individual level, being able to see what you want to happen is really important,” Shaw said. sky sports.
But could it also work for entire teams? “As long as the whole team shares the vision and everyone is aware of what behavior consistent with that vision looks like and that’s what they focus on. If everyone has a similar image, it can be really important.”
When plans go wrong, some teams can deviate from the plan, forgetting what brings success. Panic sets in. Manchester City strayed from their natural game when they fell behind at the Bernabeu, but Real Madrid amplified theirs. When they were desperate, they kept their cool.
“When they’re under pressure in those situations, they seem more comfortable. If you look at those recent comebacks, what they’re doing really well is they’re quite flexible. They can adapt when they need it.The team seems to be full of very good learners and problem solvers.
“They also seem to be preparing well. You hear a lot of managers talking about weathering a period of high pressure, getting through that and implementing their game plan. If it’s a shared goal and that they can see it becoming self-fulfilling.
“It makes things more manageable if they need to bounce back. They could feel like they knew it was going to happen, so it has that invigorating effect. They know they have to stand up to the pressure, so when they stand up to the pressure, it’s not too unfamiliar.”
This idea of the self-fulfilling prophecy of Madrid’s return can become very powerful. “If we believe something is going to happen, we’re probably behaving in a way that more closely aligns with that and makes it more likely to happen so that it continues,” Shaw says.
All the more so when it is shared by the opposition.
For all their exploits this season and in so many two-legged matches in Europe over the years, Madrid have only fallen behind in one of their seven Champions League-era finals. It was in Lisbon in 2014 when they trailed until the 93rd minute.
The opponents were Atletico Madrid, crosstown rivals with an inferiority complex baked into their psyche. The club had never won the European Cup – and still haven’t. Even in stoppage time there was this feeling that Real Madrid are never beaten until they are beaten.
It couldn’t happen, could it? He does not have.
Instead, Real Madrid won La Decima. A 10th title.
As they saw, their destiny.
It is perhaps significant that Paris Saint-Germain and Manchester City – two other clubs who have never won the European Cup – have become the victims of Madrid mythology this season. When it went wrong, they saw the end of it. Madrid sees the beginning there.
“The key thing – and I think Real Madrid have demonstrated this, which makes it more powerful – is that their behavior clearly aligns with this self-fulfilling idea that we can bounce back if we need to. Every whenever they need to bounce back, they act accordingly.
“They may be ramping up the intensity. They can reflect on the fact that they have what it takes when they need it most, they have the resources to meet the demands of the task. That part is self-fulfilling: they believe in the behavior they adopt.
“You combine that with the confidence from the previous rounds and the fact that those comebacks are their most recent experiences in the competition, I actually think that’s a brilliant way to make sure they have big conviction. That probably becomes more durable.
“It would be very rare to have to motivate players for a Champions League final, but if you had to motivate players, it would be a tremendous source of motivation.”
Of course, Liverpool, in pursuit of a seventh European Cup, is a football club with a mythology of its own. They don’t share the emotional blocks that Real Madrid were able to exploit in some of their early opponents in this competition.
Madrid manager Carlo Ancelotti was perhaps the most famous comeback receiver of all when his side AC Milan lost a three-goal lead against Liverpool in the 2005 Champions League final. Nor will their conviction fade if they fall behind.
“Overall, what I find fascinating about this is that you have two very successful teams and both seem to be really resilient environments. What you need for a resilient environment is a high challenge and high support and I think you see that in both teams.
“Whatever team was to come from behind, that’s a lot easier to do when you have the challenge to push yourself there and the high support to know you can take risks or if things go wrong. , it’s good too. “
Expect anything when these two teams meet on Saturday. Don’t expect the first goal to be the end of the story.